Ancestry has added the records of the Irish Reproductive Loan Funds to its database. They've chosen to rename the collection the Ireland Sustainability Loan Fund records.
They date from 1821 to 1874.
These loan schemes were administered by local associations, who made loans to the 'industrious poor'.
The surviving application forms, ledgers and other books can be surprisingly useful to genealogists as they often note the occupation, health, family circumstances and even emigration of the borrowers and/or their guarantors. The loans were always short-term, and required guarantors – usually close family members or neighbours.
The 'reproductive' part of the original fund name comes from the concept that a financial investment such as the purchase of farming tools, livestock or materials to build a barn would, in the short-term, generate/reproduce the loan's value, ensuring repayment but would also, in the longer-term, help alleviate the borrower's poverty.
Surviving records come primarily from ten counties in Munster and Connaught: Clare, Cork, Galway, Kerry, Leitrim, Limerick, Mayo, Roscommon, Sligo and Tipperary. Most date from 1824 to 1846 and are often the only official records of people who died during the Famine or who emigrated during those years.
This collection is also available on FindMyPast (re-named as Poverty Relief Loans) and on FamilySearch.org (unindexed, images-only). In addition, some local websites such as Skibbereen Heritage Centre's have also digitised the records and made them available free. The originals are held by The National Archives in Kew, London.